Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says barriers to knowledge economy have to be surmounted in order to cushion the impact of disruptive technology on key sectors.
Mr Osinbajo was the Special Guest of Honour at a two-day Kaduna State Investment Summit, KADINVEST, 6.0 on Thursday in Kaduna.
The theme of the Summit is, “Towards a Sustainable Knowledge Based Economy.’’
The vice president said that Nigeria was very far from taking full advantage of its young talented people.
“The main problem is how to surmount the barriers to the knowledge economy; how do we surmount those barriers to the knowledge economy?
“`The World Bank describes those barriers as the four pillars of the Knowledge economy:
“The first is institutional structures that provide incentives for entrepreneurship and the use of knowledge.
“The second is availability of skilled labor and a good education system
“The third is access to information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure.
“The fourth is vibrant innovation landscape that includes academia, the private sector, and civil society.’’
According to him, the knowledge economy, as the name implies, is entirely dependent on intellectual capital, a work force and talent pool that is educated, dynamic and adaptable.
He said it required a sound, relevant, practical, problem solving education.
“So, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math or STEM education as it is called, is crucial.
“The curriculum being developed by the Federal Ministry of education adds Arts to the combination of subjects; so our own acronym is STEAM because we have added Arts to it.
“The task here is major–developing an education system that would provide resource and support the knowledge economy- from teacher training to acquiring technology and other equipment.’’
Mr Osinbajo said that an effective planning was needed in order to create adequate resource capacity and capability
He said factors to be considered included what it would take to train and equip enough engineers, technologists, scientists, doctors and other products of STEM curricula to drive a Knowledge Based Economy.
“Thankfully we are not alone in this, as there are global shortages everywhere of technological talent.
“A recent analysis showed that the Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning talent gap globally stands at 1.2 million resources, while there are only 650 thousand professionals employable in these roles.
“The best Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development(OECD) countries have 16 scientist/researches per 1000 employees and spend 1 to 3 per cent of GDP on Research and Development.
“Where do we stand on that scale? How do we accelerate our progress?
He said that with global gaps in talent, well planned training programme could even see Nigeria become a hub for critical technical talent.
This was proven with the success of Andela, a Nigerian company, developing and placing Software Engineering talent.
He said it could be replicated across a broader range of STEM disciplines.
“So, it is possible with companies like Andela; that is already doing so much work developing soft engineers, programmers and all manner of other talents; it is possible to do more and increase the numbers.
“Some ideas that can be explored include support for on-the job and tailored training to accelerate talent development and augment conventional schooling.
“For example, I understand Blue Camel has a Solar Installation training facility on its industrial campus where it trains hundreds of students a year.
“Also, the curricula in trainings could have a standard knowledge set that must be learnt prior to specialisation.’’
Mr Osinbajo said that the standard principles should support mobility of talent across jobs to adapt to changes in a Knowledge-Based economy.
He said that the Kashim Ibrahim Fellowship promoted by the state government was capable of creating a critical mass of talented people.
“I think The Kashim Ibrahim Fellowship, which the Kaduna State government initiated a few years ago, which exposes Fellows to thought leaders and experts.
“And to practical experience through rotational job programs and community service is also an example of the type of initiatives needed to create a high caliber talent pool for the Knowledge Based Future,’’ he said.
Gov. Nasir el-Rufai, who presented an overview of KADINVEST 1.0 to 5.0 and unveiled KADINVEST 6.0, thanked the vice president for gracing the event.
He said that KADINVEST, which was started in 2016 less than a year after he took office, was in realisation of partnering with the private sector in creating jobs and growing the state.
Mr Osinbajo, afterwards inspected the Galaxy Mall, Kaduna, and proceeded to inaugurate the Kasuwan Magani market and 100 kilowatt Solar PV Mini-Grid, at Kajuru.
Mr Osinbajo said that the Galaxy Mall and the Kasuwan Magani market were both products of the focus of the Kaduna State Government in enabling commerce and improving the economic prospects of its citizens.